Viewpoint: The Culture of Wisconsin Fandom

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Melissa Petroff, Sports Reporter

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Is it the anticipation of the weekend to see your favorite team play on television? The tailgating? The excitement of getting to go to a sport stadium to watch your team play their biggest rival? (And hopefully, win?) There are a lot of different reasons why Wisconsinites are so passionate about their sports teams – whether it’s the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks or Brewers, or even a collegiate team. There is something special about this state where the people get just a little crazier about their teams than other states do – and it is definitely something to admire.  

It’s very possible that Wisconsin fans get so hyped about their home sports teams because of the way Wisconsin can be portrayed by the rest of the country; although part of what “they” say is true – yes, we love cheese, we are not afraid of the cold (and will gladly cheer on our teams in it), and yes, we do know how to “drink Wisconsinibly”. Perhaps that is why if you are in another state and say you’re from Wisconsin, after of course the person you’re talking to says, “oh Wiscaaaaansin,” they think that this is all we know.  

What many out-of-staters realize but might not admit right away is that the fans of Wisconsin teams do not mess around. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse senior, Charlie Raethke knows this for a fact, “There’s a rich history within our state that promotes an atmosphere of celebration whenever possible. Few, if any, other states have fans that arrive hours before the game to tailgate and stay long after the final whistle is blown to enjoy a win”. Whether it’s a close win or a total blowout, Wisconsinites will be sure to be getting loud. For anyone who has been to a Packers game, you already know you’re going to be high-fiving lots of people you don’t know after a win at Lambeau.  

While Wisconsin has a handful of large cities, none can compare to New York, Los Angeles, Miami, or even a city like Chicago. This is why even when a Wisconsin team boasts and outstanding record and players, we are still seen as a sort of “underdog”. UWL junior Matt Morris expressed this, “I get hyped because I’m proud of my teams and when they get into the playoffs. It’s a chance to show everyone how good we are and to show everyone Wisconsin sports are as good as any other place in the country”.  

Raethke agreed by noting, “Having smaller market teams, there’s often less coverage on us around the country. So, when the players we have get the opportunity to show off on the national stage it creates a team that the whole state can rally behind”.  

Not only do the fans support the teams, but players from different sports love to get in on the action as well. Last week, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers became part of the Bucks ownership team. In May of 2017, The Brewers made a special Brewers hat for their “Pack at the Park Night” for one of their games. Packers president Mark Murphy also threw out the first pitch that night. Players from all Wisconsin sports recognize who their fans are fans of, and then can feed off that energy. 

There’s nothing like watching a game on TV here in La Crosse with friends and hearing cheers from neighboring houses when a big play is made. What makes those cheers louder? When a team from Wisconsin makes the playoffs. Morris talked about his excitement for the Bucks, “With this Bucks playoff team right now, I feel invested in them because I’ve been watching them develop since we drafted Giannis. Now I get to see the team I love play to their full potential”. 

Wisconsin sports has the power to bring people together. The togetherness promotes a sense of belonging and loyalty to the teams of The Dairy State. Raethke is very familiar with that slogan for our state, “Growing up on a dairy farm, my dad was always busy with chores at night but during postseason football, he’d always make time to come home and watch those games with me. Watching those games together and cheering the Packers on will always be a special memory for me”. 

No matter what time of year, Wisconsin sports fans will be celebrating one of our beloved teams. The players on the teams know that through the ups and downs, Wisconsin fans will still be supporting them. Although crazy, loud, and to other teams, sometimes obnoxious, the fans of this state will continue to be the best in the country.  



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